Miami Beach clubs feature music, neon lights, drinks and flashy dressers. Now there’s a Miami-style club in New York where, instead of mojitos and designer outfits, people drink water and wear gym clothes.
When Sadie Kurzban created 305 Fitness, a chain of boutique exercise studios, she aimed to bring the Miami style to some of the country’s largest cities. With membership growing,
Kurzban hopes to continue expanding her business.
Decorated with palm trees, pink neon and “305” signs, the studios’ dance classes specialize in cardio, flexibility and toning. With three different intensity levels, the club welcomes even those who have never worked out.
“Even though it’s a great workout, we don’t put the emphasis on that,” said Kurzban, 29. “We really put it on being a place where it’s all about celebrating who you are, dancing and expressing joy.”
Kurzban, a Miami native who grew up in Biscayne, was introduced to dancing and aerobics at age 3, watching her mother take classes. She became fascinated by dance culture
and the interaction among fitness enthusiasts.
But by age 10, Kurzban said she began to feel the pressure to look a certain way, skinny, toned and tan. Thinking that her value was determined by her looks, she became obsessed with dieting and exercising.
She attended college at Brown University in Rhode Island and learned about feminism and self-love.
“I started to understand that in other parts of the country women’s bodies are not on display in the same way that they are in Miami,” Kurzban said.
She won $25,000 during her senior year after presenting her 305 plan in a business pitch competition, moved to New York and launched her business. 305 Fitness now has three branches in New York City, and others in Los Angeles, Boston and Washington, D.C.
“The inspiration behind 305 was I wanted to take the parts of Miami that I love, which is music, culture, diversity, inclusivity, fun, party,” Kurzban said. “Miami people know how to have a good time.” Echoes of Miami “305” are everywhere.
A neon-pink scooter is parked inside the Greenwich Village location in New York, while guests can play in a photo booth with palm tree and beach-ball props at a gym in Midtown Manhattan.
Pop art fills the walls There are hot-pink dial telephones, graffiti and a 12-foot “305” planted in pink flowers.
The exercise spaces, dark with neon party lights, are named after Miami locations like South Beach, Brickell and Coconut Grove. DJs mix music as people dance, sweaty and freely.
“It’s like a club,” instructor Erica Feliciano said. “You’ll see me doing jumping jacks, look the other way and see someone twerking while doing a split.”
Feliciano has been leading cardio dance classes at the 305 Fitness midtown location for a year and a half, commuting an hour from Long Island. Instructors walk into a class not knowing what mixes the DJ will play.
“I love it,” said Jillian Nagaldi, who works out at 305 regularly. “It doesn’t even feel like you’re working out.”
Kurzban still teaches classes three days a week in New York.
“It’s my favorite part of my job,” she said. “It really helps me keep my ears to the ground and know what customers are saying.”
It isn’t just a workout that people leave with after working out at 305 Fitness. Its non-judgmental atmosphere boosts their confidence.
“It changed me as a person,” Feliciano said. “It’s not just your body, it changes you on the inside.”
Kurzban’s goal is to change the narrative that says there is such a thing as the perfect body.
“It’s important for us to keep focusing on changing the conversation in the fitness industry, which is so often about bikini bodies and summer bodies and looking a certain way,” Kurzban said.
Karla Florez is a reporter in the Caplin News’s New York City Bureau.